With COVID-19 social distancing constraints, 2020 became an exercise in continuing operations within a virtual space. While more physical challenges in terms of health, transport and trade logistics could not be avoided, keeping information and capacity building services available could still be addressed.
ITC’s Alliances for Action programme and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) ran a series of 11 webinars throughout 2020 to address COVID-19 social distancing constraints. The exercise was actively supported by the European Union (EU), the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and CARIFORUM.
The goal was to keep the information and capacity building flowing to Caribbean coconut sector stakeholders. The result was incredible, with 1,665 actors reached in total from the Caribbean and worldwide.
The EU Delegation, CARIFORUM Secretariat and CARDI either participated or presented in the majority of the webinars, providing valuable insights on how to build resilience throughout the sector, immediately and in the long-term. The topics ranged from marketing and food trends to climate smart agriculture and policy responses.
The momentum built with these webinars is now being leveraged in the field. One salient example is the webinar on value addition and coconut-derived products, organized in partnership with Jamaica’s Scientific Research Council (SRC). Following the virtual session, SRC worked with coconut processors and farmers who attended to develop soap products for the local market. This exercise has had successful results, with workshop stakeholders demonstrating entrepreneurship and launching their small ranges of skincare products.
The webinar on mother palm selection has also been bearing fruit under the guidance of the Coconut Industry Board. It provided a platform for coconut farmers throughout the Caribbean region to build on the knowledge acquired and to take it from a virtual platform to the field.